The ruling on Microsoft should get short shrift from investors Thursday, as the 2-year trial is likely to drag on at least another year as the software giant appeals the decision. Asian markets were mixed, Europe moved up, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.
Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's ruling came as no surprise; the judge announced after market close Wednesday that Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows operating systems operations should be split from the rest of the company.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer vowed to fight the government-sponsored break-up of the company; officials said they expect to overturn the decision on appeal. Investors bid the stock up 1 7/16 to 71 15/16 in after-hours trading, and overnight in European trading as well.
Economic news includes a report on import and export prices in May. While Thursday's data doesn't mean much for Fed watchers, Friday's report on May wholesale prices will. Investors are awaiting the data, expected to show a gain of 0.3 percent in May, after a 0.3 percent decline in April, to determine whether the recent rally, based on prior evidence inflation is cooling, is justified.
On the earnings front, National Semiconductor (NYSE: NSM) is due to report fourth quarter results, expected to show earnings of 62 cents a share, according to First Call.
Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday's most actively traded issues: American Software, 4Front Technologies, Great Plains Software, Merix, Microsoft and Tech Data.
IBM sparked a late rally in the technology sector Wednesday as the Nasdaq composite moved up 83 points to 3,839.00. The Dow Jones industrial average tacked on 76 points to 10,811.82.
At the Bell
The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 37 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 5 to 1477 at 7:41 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.
The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was up 20 to 491.36.
Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 fell 0.82 to 17,004, Singapore's Strait Times index gained 1.25 percent to 2,060 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 1.85 percent to 15,876.
European markets were headed up. London's FTSE 100 rose 0.61 percent to 6,543. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 1.52 percent to 6,957 and the DAX in Frankfurt was up 1.22 percent to 7,381 at 7:05 a.m. EST.
Reuters contributed to this report.